Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Preserving Hatch Chiles

It's that time of year again!  Hatch Chile season!!  If you don't know about Hatch Chiles, they are a very flavorful chile from New Mexico.  There's literally festivals built around this rather unassuming vegetable!  Here's a post I did on them last time: Hatch Chiles.

Well Hatch Chile season technically started a month ago.  I've just been drowning in other produce to tackle the chile issue.  People have asked me, "where have you been?" and "you haven't posted much on your blog".  I know.  I apologize.  I've been busy picking, canning and trying to enjoy what's left of summer.  I'll post the canning stuff later (peaches, plums, apples, pears, blackberries, oh my!!).  

On to the chiles.....  Freezing is the best method for preserving Hatch chiles for use all year long.  Last time I split a case of Hatch's with a friend.  I got lazy after peeling all the chiles and I froze them whole (seeds and all).  It wasn't a big deal.  When I was ready to use them, I defrosted them but had to take out the seeds before using them.  

This time I actually took the time to pre-prep so that when I pull them out of the freezer, I can just pop them into my recipes.  After the peppers had been roasted and allowed to cool, I peeled the skins off (Wear gloves!!  You'll thank me later!).  Then chopped the chiles up.  I flash froze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper into 1/2 c. servings.  These are about the size of a can of chiles they sell in the store and believe me when I say they are much tastier!!  These are a mix of medium and mild chiles. 
You can see they freeze in a nice disk or puck shape.  After a few hours, take them out of t he freezer and place them in a large freezer bag.  You can take out pre-measured portion sizes as you need them.  For this method, they will likely last about 3-6 months or so.  
I was, however, looking for a more long term storage method.  I like to keep them for up to a year or until I use up my stash.  I placed each individual disk or puck into a Food Saver bag.  As you can see, with the air sucked out, there's less chance of freezer burn and my precious Hatch chiles will last longer!
I also froze the pre-prepped chiles whole.  I placed about 6 chiles per bag and Food Saver'ed them also.  This will keep them nice and happy in the freezer!
Anyone have some tried and true Hatch chile recipes?  My favorite is this Hatch Chile Verde.  Yummy!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meatless Monday: Roasted Summer Veggie Ratatouille

Summer always finds us with a bounty of amazing vegetables to choose from.  The colors are dramatic, the textures enticing and the flavors are divine!  If you find your garden producing like a banshee and are trying to use up a lot of your summer produce all at once, why not take a cue from the French?  Oui?    
Here I had a mixture of colorful vegetables from my own garden (tomatoes and eggplant) as well as some beautiful Farmer's market finds (Lebanese summer squash (Have you tried these?  You must!!) and red bell peppers).  My massage therapist also gave me a yellow squash from her garden.  She's adorable!  I was also able to use up some fresh garden basil and some leeks in this recipe!  Seriously, add whatever is in season!  This recipe was delicious and filling.  You won't miss the meat at all!  It makes for the perfect Meatless Monday dinner!!

Roasted Summer Veggie Ratatouille
Adapted from: (Anne Burrell)

3-4 small or medium Japanese eggplant, cut into bite sized 1/2 inch slices
2-3 medium summer squash (I used Lebanese and yellow), cut into bite sized 1/2 inch slices 
4-5 paste tomatoes (I had some Roma and San Marzanos), cut into 1/2 inch slices
4-6 cloves of garlic (leave whole and in outer skin)
extra virgin olive oil
dried thyme
dried oregano
Hawaiian salt
2 leeks, white and light green parts only and finely sliced
1-2 red bell peppers, cut into bite sized 1/2 inch slices
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the eggplant, summer squash, and tomatoes in a single layer on the parchment paper.  I had so many veggies that I needed 2 baking sheets.  Add the whole cloves of garlic (divide them up between your baking sheets).  Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with Hawaiian salt.  Sprinkle 1-2 tsp. each of dried thyme and oregano onto the vegetables.  

3) Slow roast the veggies in the oven for about 45-60 minutes (cooking time will depend on size and quantity of veggies).  Stir veggies a couple of times during the roasting process.  When done, vegetables should be soft and pliable and have brown edges to them.  Remove them from the oven and allow to cool.       

4) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the leeks.  Season with salt and saute until the leeks are soft.  Add the red bell peppers and season with salt if needed.  Cook until the peppers are soft, 5-8 minutes.  Pick out the garlic cloves from your baking sheet and squeeze the garlic out of the outer skins.  Discard the skins.  Add the roasted garlic to your skillet.  Use the spoon to mash up the garlic bits and mix into the leek/pepper mixture.

5) Add the roasted vegetables to the skillet with any juices that collected.  Add the vinegar and fresh basil and mix well.  Add 2-3 more Tbsp. olive oil if needed.  Taste to check your seasoning.  Serve by itself or add it to a bed of pasta.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Oui oui!!     

Harvest Monday: September 1, 2014

This post is late.  I'm late!  AUGH!  Summer has been busy and it's canning season.  My kitchen is a disaster!  But the produce stops for no one!!  

The summer garden is still pumping out harvests.  The fall crop that I planted and have been trying to give shade to has also flourished!  I managed to pick some spinach last week.  Although since we've had a warm summer, it looks like the spinach maybe bolting!  I'll have to quickly replant another round of them!  These greens make lovely salads and smoothies!
The paste tomatoes are coming along as well.  For some reason my Roma tomatoes are small this year.  They're very cute...a little larger than my largest cherry tomatoes or about 2 inches tall.  It's more like a petite roma.  Hahaha.  The San Marzano on the other hand have produced very large beautiful fruit.  Sorry Roma but I may break up with you next year just on principle.  It's not me, it's you!  =)

I've also had some tomatoes from the mystery tomato plant.  It was a volunteer this year but I think it's a Brandywine.  It has potato leaves and the fruit is a lighter pink color.  Shishito peppers have been the ultimate producer this year.  It continues to crank out peppers!! 
My cucumbers have been slow to produce this year.  The lemon cucumbers were a flop this year altogether.  I've managed to harvest a few Japanese cucumbers.  My two eggplant plants have given me a steady supply this year.  They've been good eats!!  Cherry tomatoes anyone?  I'm picking these guys almost every other day!

Happy Harvest!!
Stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what others' are harvesting around the world!

This week's harvest totals:
  - Cherry tomatoes = 1.35 lb
  - Spinach = 0.28 lb
  - Eggplant = 0.68 lb
  - Cucumbers = 1.03 lb
  - Shishito Peppers = 0.57 lb
  - Roma Tomatoes = 0.85 lb
  - San Marzano Tomatoes = 0.36 lb
  - Brandywine Tomatoes = 0.2 lb